Monday, December 2, 2013

Daily Pic | November Edition

November was over in the blink of an eye really!!!  It didn't hurt that it couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.  
We attended the wedding of the lovely Ktraf.  It may have been the most fun wedding I’ve ever been to.  The food was incredible, we danced the entire time to their AMAZING band (when we weren’t eating and drinking) and the company was equally fun.  What a terrific night. 

T & I became Godparents and feel so lucky to have been blessed with this perfect lil nugget for a niece.  Time spent with her this month is at the TOP of my happy list.

We also took my dad for his early-Christmas present to see Ricky Skaggs at the MAYO center.  Perfect example of something I’d never see on my own but enjoyed immensely.  We even stayed a few minutes afterward to get his autograph.  My dad was actually ‘giddy' and T&I basically had a social seizure in front of the guy.  Oh we also tried this place that night and it was AMAZING.  I got a Chicago dog and the boys each got the beef sandwich.  We all give it 2 thumbs up.

Speaking of family, my sister and her man completed their move.  I cannot tell you how quickly they turned an empty apartment into an aesthetically-amazing home.  Seriously, that girl has SKILLS.  She's a pro. 

Meanwhile, our house hunt bumpily continues… it’s been QUITE the journey.  Hoping for some good mojo to wrap up 2013 or kick off 2014.

Two big freelance projects made their way out the door this month.  Check out the Clue-Themed Save the Date here.  I'll be posting the 2nd one soon! 

Anyway, we closed out the month with a BLISSFUL four-day weekend.  It was SO relaxing after a half-week of HORRENDOUS holiday traffic.  We saw family, decorated our tree (after hemming and hawing about whether to do it this year) and even managed in a special Sunday meal out. 

Now, its December.. here we go!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Daily Pic | October Edition

Hallo! (ween) everyone.
Time to wrap up 'Tobes.  It was a good and busy month full of birthdays and freelance.  My biggest highlight was probably meeting all of my idols from 'Chopped' when T gifted me the amazing experience of attending Absolut's Bloody Mary Brunch. The judges from Chopped were all in attendance and I drank amazing bloodies and met all my fave people!  Woot!!

I'm also grateful for the many fun b-day/Halloween drinks/parties.  Fun with a capital FUN.  

Normally this is the part where I say what I've been listening to this month, but I'm actually already gearing up my 'Best Of 2013' list so I'm almost tempted to reserve this.  All I will say is: Go listen to Reflektor.

Suuuper excited for a very special wedding tomorrow.  The lovely Kristina will be getting married.  Feels like I've been waiting forever for this occasion and its here!!

Annnd, that is all.  bye.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Daily Pic | September Edition

Well, as you'll be able to tell from the daily pics, September can be best described as high-highs and low-lows.  It was a real roller coaster. 

We had finally found THE house.  We fell really hard for it.  It was cute, extremely well maintained, had a great gut-feeling to it, perfect location, and was in our budget.  We put in an offer and had insane butterflies for 2 or 3 days.  Ultimately, they wanted a 2nd offer and ours was outbid. I'm still really sad about it, but we learned a TON in that week.  A ton. 

I had the pleasure of attending an incredible bridal shower for the sweetest and most deserving girl.  The venue, food and company were all just awesome.  :)

The hubs and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary with dinner at 'our' place in Rutherford, Paisanos, and walking around after, discovered Mason's Cellar.  A totally awesome wine/beer/liq store with amazing decor, cool tchotchkes and an impressive booze collection.  The location is actually an old bank so the building is lovely, and they even put the really elite wines in the bank's original vault!
It was a really nice night, and one that we really needed after the ups and downs of the week.  We received the sweetest gifts from our parents/in-laws, and were once again, reminded how blessed we are with our amazing families.

The following week we had a ticket scare but it worked out and for the third time we saw the amazing, Local Natives @ Term.5.  As a couple, prob 'our' favorite band.  It was awesome. 

Finished out the month with yucky colds (thank you tissue-terrorizing-church-children!), awesome homemade soup, a near-death-by-dog-maul-experience, a serious decline in ice-cream/yogurt consumption, wrapping up Breaking Bad and me losing an entire evening getting sucked in to the movie, Moneyball.

Tunage: Wild Nothing (opened for Local Natives and loved 'em), old albums by Gorillaz (perfect for designing to) drawing a blank on notable others. 

p.s. The leaves are turning and its so pretty i can hardly stand it!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Daily Pic | August Edition

August was one heck of a great month.  It was basically packed with summery good-ness.
We had our awesome monthly date down the shore at Long Branch's best-rest 'Sirena'… and then went back to the beach again for an awesome beach bbq day at Island Beach state park with my sis and her peeps.  SO much fun.

T & I hosted a three-way birthday party for my dad, sister-in-law and my sister's man where we played with stupid tricks-n-gags from Archie McPhee and where we served sweet and savory grilled cheese and I adapted this recipe into meatballs. Both were insanely delicious.

Speaking of my sister and her man, they got engaged!  A Mere-gagement!  Woohoo!  So much family awesomeness this month..... then, theres the lil addition who I can't really talk about here but… its honest to goodness true love.

Besides that,  SEEING MY ORIOLE... (which I had totally given up on since he went away at end of June), and a trip up to Portland Maine were the next tier of big highlights.  

We had an awesome time in Maine: saw a black guillemot, sunrise over the Atlantic, ate delicious fresh seafood, a sunset sail, and a whole lotta walkin.  :)

It was a really good month for music too:  Magical Cloudz | Pure Bathing Culture | Blackbird Blackbird | Washed Out | ... maybe more!  Oh, and this AWESOME song (don't usually love this band but, wow)  with one of the most amazing music videos of all time: 

Gridzeepoo: I actually forgot a couple days early in the month (sacreblueu!) and then I was in Maine for the end... so, a few fewer than normal....

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ramblings on Heirlooms & Tradition

I don't normally write posts like this, but yesterday T had an event at work (and blogged about it himself) which sparked some reflection on my part.  Forgive my ramblings as my head is still spinning with my own thoughts!

The community where he works hosted an Antiques Appraisal event where people were encouraged to bring in their 'potential treasures' from home and find out if are worth anything.  He said one of the more interesting things he learned from Carolyn Remmey (the appraiser), is that many things that are a century old are surprisingly not worth much and are not collectible in today's market.

She said that grandmothers aren't passing along their china, etc. to their granddaughters as much anymore (who know their lack of monetary value and/or are just not interested in them).  My reaction to this was twofold: #1- "Well that's sad…" and #2-"I'm totally not surprised!"

It's probably important to know that I come from a family who values collectibles.  I have a history-obsessed dad, and an antiques-appreciative mom.  My grandparents have had things passed down to them, and I've also already had things passed down to me.  I have a silver set from my Great-Great-Aunt(s) as well as a pretty set of glassware.  However, these days, people just don't have the dinner parties that past generations have had!  I'm sad to say that I haven't used either of my inherited collections yet, and cannot yet truly picture the circumstance where I will. I said to Tom (the appraiser also echoed this apparently), "No one has fancy dinners anymore...".  China or silver sets for 12+ people…?!  (Sidenote: Then again, almost everyone puts new china sets on their wedding registries……a baffling item in my head.  Is it out of formality?...)

What's most interesting to me is that, despite the sad fact that these once-valuable treasures are becoming worthless, it isn't that my generation isn't creating their own festive traditions.  Most parties today resolve around buckets of artisinal beers,  spigot adorned drink dispensers, paper straws, elaborate bar setups (guilty!), the mason-jar craze, outdoor games like cornhole, super elaborate cakes, and an overall more hand-crafted approach to things.  Maybe it's The Recession and my generation's feeling of, 'If I can save a buck and DIY this, I will…"

Meanwhile, other antiquated fads have made comebacks- read: LETTERPRESS!  Good lord.  The most painstaking tradition you can imagine… and EXPENSIVE!  It is just interesting to me how little people are caring about century-old china, silver or crystal (let alone their owns family's!) but are willing to drop hundreds to thousands of dollars on letterpressed business cards or wedding invitations.  

So what does all this say?  Who knows!  I've confused myself.  I guess bottom-line: If your grandparents try to offer you something, take it!  It would be so sad if our generation dropped the ball on heirlooms in favor of mason jars.  Even if it's a decade until you use them and it's just the once, don't turn them down. That's my two cents at least.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Daily Pic | July Edition

Well this was one heck of a jam-packed month!  And a good one indeed.  

Highlights: Hit up the Meadowlands Fair.  I enjoyed amazing fireworks and a totally inappropriate ice pop on the 4th, and we had a blast at Dee's wedding; all within 4 days time. 

I met with some very cool people to talk design and made some cute wrappers and an awesome over sized baby banner.  (Check em out here!)  

My sis and I and our men hit up Brother Jimmy's in New Brunswick.  It was amazing.  After the Rodman picnic, I'm very surprised Tom and I drank out of a fishbowl (ever) again but this time it's effects were less severe.  :)  And this one came with a rubber alligator!

Speaking of sisters, (or sister-in-law in this case)…. We attended a lovely shower for my little niece on the way.  It was a really great day, and we can't wait.  I made these owl paintings for the nursery (and an owl room humidifier from the registry).  I'm going to be an auntie so soon!!!!

... Survived the hottest heat wave everrr.  Saw the beach (Ocean Grove doesn't open till 12:30 on Sunday- whaaa!?).  Went to an awesome restaurant in Montclair with awesome people and had an awesome night.  Check it out if you're over there, its called Uncle Moustache (seriously!)  Spent a day in Cranberry Lake paradise with awesome peeps.  (just noticing, no concerts this month- weird!)

TUNAGE | New Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero's (SO good.  Lots of 60/70's influence- Joe Cocker, Beatles, Johnny Cash, etc.), Deerhunter, The Bright Light Social Hour (where have on BEEN on these guys?!)

NOM-AGE | Lettuce Wraps, Tofu Tacos, grilling veggies, homemade ice-pops! These oreo ones were redic. (I used milk instead of cream.)  Same for the green tea. And, made these last night (yet to try).  Except I broke off a quarter of a graham cracker and just stuck it in the mold, cuz I'm crazy like that... 

And now, since I am all tuckered out from linking things here, 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summertime Tofu Tacos

With the crazy summer heatwave we were having last week, most nights I couldn't make myself cook anything hot.  That said, I fired up the stove-top Sunday night to put together this meal. 

T and I were at the beach when I started to consider what we'd do for dinner.  I threw out sausage tacos OR..... tofu.  I sorta summed up the gist of what I'd do, and he was intrigued!  High five!  Tofu Tacos it would be!

When I posted the photo on fb, & got an inquiry about how I made them, I decided I might as well throw it on the lil blog here.  So- here it goes... my Tofu Tacos (serves 2-3 people)

For the tofu:
Step 1: Take 1 pack of Extra Firm tofu (liquid drained) and slice into 1/2" slices.  Take paper towels and blot out as much moisture as possible (this helps if from being mushy later).  Then cut them in 1/2 again (to make the sticks like the picture).  Again, blot out as much moisture as possible and set aside, spread out on a plate.

Step 2: On wax paper (or foil, a plate, whatever) mix together approx (I never measure when I'm winging it, so these are my guesses- def add or remove spices according to your preferences) 
1 and 1/3 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 big TB chili powder
1 big TB paprika
few shakes garlic salt
few shakes cayenne pepper
few shakes onion powder
1 big tsp cumin

Step 3: Whip up an egg while you heat some olive oil in a skillet.  I don't use a ton, just enough to coat the whole bottom of the skillet without any blank spots.  
Coat the tofu sticks in the egg then drop into the coating mixture.  I find that its easiest to do like, 5 sticks at a time, and then roll them gently to coat all the sides.  Place them on a dry plate while you do the next 5 or so, till you're done.  Just work as quickly as possible here since 1) Your oil is on the heat and 2) You don't want your breadcrumbs to get soggy.

Step 4: Pan sauté them and use tongs to flip them after about 2-3 minutes or so.  Just keep rotating them until all sides are golden.  Flip gently so the coating doesn't all fall off (this is where tongs are best).

For the toppings:
I used CORN tortillas (so much better than flour in my opinion) slightly heated in the toaster-oven (or wherever).  Tip: If they break apart while eating, just double them.

Shmear of: I make this combo of Mayo and all the spices listed above from the tofu breading (minus the panko), plus some lime juice-- its delish and creamy.  Adds a TON of flavor.  Just mix it till its orangey-red, and smear on the tortilla

Jar of 'medium' salsa (obvs if you make your own you get super bonus points)

Bagged 'Mexican Cheese blend' (Actually, queso fresco would be amazing--- unless you're vegan, then I guess just substitute accordingly)

LOTS of fresh cilantro (if you love it, like we do- if not, boo sad for you)

Sliced romaine lettuce

Fresh lime squeezed on top

Green onion (optional)
Jalepeno (optional), etc etc!

I made grilled chayote squash to go with it, which was BANGIN (just peel and slice in 1/2" slices (remove little seed spot with a spoon) sprinkle with season salt, pepper and olive oil) then grill for 5 mins on both sides. (I used a grill pan inside which worked great)
Thats it!  I think written down it looks like way more than it really is!!  The fact that it's tofu actually makes these super awesome for the hot summer since you don't feel grossly full afterwards.  
Oh- and my summer 2013 beer accompaniment of choice: Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Daily Pic | June Edition

Hey yah'll...
June's over.  Wah!  I'm loving this summer stuff... I don't even mind hot n' muggy this year.

Highlights?  School is out, which means my morning commute is like 80% improved. 

GoogleReader is gone, which is the saddest thing ever. 

T & I saw 'The National' at Barclays.  It was a cool show.  Lots of... teal falcons.  

Went to a super fun Bachelorette where we devoured a whole fleet of rummy bears, tasted wine and stayed in a tiny dollhouse.

I ventured back to BK to check out the brooklyn flea with my girl katie (fun!) and we ate yummy bbq here

I have become sort of obsessed with making homemade ice pops thanks to a sweet friend who bought me the molds.  Matcha green tea and Mexican Hot Chocolate are the leaders so far...

Launched and revealed my website !! Finished projects, and started new ones.  Good stuff!  

Listening to Random Access Memories

We had our Company Picnic which was.... well, really really fun.  And then I had the busiest 72 hours of my life here at RodMed.  S'all good... ready for a 4 day weekend. 4th of july!  A wedding!  Woo hoooo!!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Daily Pic | May Edition

Last day of the work-week.... last day of the month.  While I can't believe tomorrow will be June, looking back at the beginning of May feels like ages ago. 

We looked at more houses..... there was a ton of rain..... saw Foals at Terminal5 (10-star concert)... I went to the MMA with my dad and saw this... did a ton of design... listened to the new Vampire Weekend... saw The Flaming Lips at The Welmont (ah-mazing)... became utterly obsessed with a bird in my neighborhood (an atypical Baltimore Oriole)... and the local birds in general... experienced Frozen Yogurt on a whole new level (custom toppingssss)... and had good times with good friends.  I'm enjoying this heatwave.  Hoping to hit the beach soon.

Other than that, my thoughts are with you dear friend- you know who you are. < 3

May Day, May Day May Days:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Daily Pic | April Edition

What a LONG month.  Reviewing the beginning of April seems like ages ago.  Whew!

Items of note….
Worklife: I became obsessed with the goose living on (yes- on) our building.  I check on him and his 5 eggs regularly.  I had my 3 year anniv here, which boiled down to me bringing in the obligatory bagels.  And then the rest of the month was basically an insane blur of deadlines.  Peace out April!

Homelife: T and I started looking at houses.  Its been fun.  We aren't in any rush so, there's no pressure.  Anyway, we've been through LOTS of open houses and have started seeing specific ones in the evenings (possible post on h-hunting to come).  This also means that we've been back out there walking!  The weather has finally graced us with non-icy temps and we've been out there a LOT.  We checked out the cherry blossoms in Branchbrook Park and inevitably, I've been visiting more italian ice and ice cream/yogurt places than i'd like to admit. 
That said: Thanks to Jboo, I finally woke up from my multi-year exercise nap and I've been hitting the gym 4-5 days a week.  My stupid foot hurt me big time so unfortunately I'm sort of stuck on the elliptical for now, but s'all good. 

Kitchenlife: Lots of new recipes!  Sweet potato salad, lettuce wraps, all sorts of "asian soups" as T calls them, an elaborate pasta slad...  I ventured into the world of celery root…. etc…. Trying to gear up for more spring/summer cuisine.

Entertainment Life: WWE Hall Of Fame.  At the Garden.  It was actually awesome.  Like the Oscars of the WWE world.  Imagine lots of tuxes, sequins, and genuinely great speeches.  We celebrated my in-laws 40th Anniv (!) with a really fun family dinner out at Paisanos.  It was beyond delicious.  And, I gots ma teeths cleaned.  She said, 'I can tell you've been flossing!!".  Yes.  Yes I have!

Listened to: TV on the Radio (wow… had NO idea how amazing their entire catalog was), new album by the Flaming Lips (not a huge fan normally but this one is amazing.  Very NIN)

Watched: Game of Thrones :speechless:, Americans :speechless:, End Of Watch.  This movie that was on at Retro and as I'm seeing it I'm thinking: 'Laura- this movie looks a-mazing.  Take off your glasses, blare your tunes and watch this with T!' … and that's exactly what we did. And it was outstanding.

Designed: A LOT.  Like, a LOTTT.  Its been a very artsy month.

So many great times with my sis this month.  An evening at Midtown w/ our men yielded a ton of fun and also an awakening to my lack of attention to 70's funk. So, some pandora to cure that problem: Fantastic Voyage Radio! (my parents don't even read this blog, and I can still feel them cringing over this, lol)

Well besides getting SLAMMED with allergies since last weekend, that's about it I guess.

Nitty Grid-dy:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Daily Pic | March Edition

hi.  March is ending.  Can it be?  Maybe we finally have a shot at spring starting.  If the [hysterical?] birds are any indication, its here!  I won't be back at my desk until April, so the March Grid is being hatched today.

We had a bunch of snow (yuck!) and I had Jury Duty.  I'm one of those weirdos who likes it and I was kinda bummed when I eventually got released as Juror #12.  Womp. 

In entertainment news: Toro Y Moi, Divine Fits and Ra Ra Riot occupied my ears.  Totally digging on Toro.
Into the Darkest Corner & It's Kind of a Funny Story occupied my eyes.  The former was really good and the latter was, okay I guess.  Also, I finished watching White Collar and power watched Downton Abbey.  SO good.  Love me some early 20th century Brit-life.  I had a bunch of fun design projects which I guess you could say occupied my hands & brain?

As far as being social is concerned: I ventured to Brooklyn for an awesome girls night with my fave Brooklynite.  I also tried fresh pasta for the 1st time and WOW.  Delish.

We had an amazing bday party for my mom, hosted by my sister.  She went all out in the food & decor dept.  The most insane mini-key lime pies I EVER tasted and the most heart stopping decor.  She rules!

We attended a re-housewarming/St.Patti's day party in Morristown (thanks Sar!!) where we had ridiculously good Guinness cupcakes and listened to awesome live musical talent. 

Also, since we aren't total social mooches, T & I hosted a really fun dinner party at Casa Ragu for our work besties.  We killed many, many bottles of wine, had a lot of laughs and thanks to Jboo, we all experienced 'beer wine' for the first time.  

We rocked out to The HIVES at Irving Plaza on a Sunday night, cuz we're still young and hip like that.  I felt extremely short and couldn't see much but they were awesome nevertheless.  And, we made our second trip to the BaoHaus where my AMAZING husband let me have his chicken bao after I ordered pork belly by mistake.  Even if they'd run out of most of their menu again, at least I graffiti'd the table this time.

Besides [finally] stealing the mayorship to 7 Farmers Market, I think that's it.  Oh, and apparently I liked wearing my lime cardigan a LOT this month….


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Daily Pic | February Edition

It was a month of cold windchills and some snowy days. We passed notes and had parties at work while enduing a roller coaster of building climates & conditions.  I got hooked on The Americans and power watched White Collar on Netflix.  We saw the animated shorts at the Clairidge and were blown away by Local Natives at the Bowery Ballroom.  

We battled colds, saw family, and celebrated Valentines day.  There were trips to HMart and new recipes with new ingredients.  We went to a restaurant with one of the largest selections of draft beers and had a waiter who'd never heard of a beer flight.  I had fun sister time and lots of good design.  

I rocked out to the new album from Foals.  I said goodbye to a pair of sneakers I've had for over ten years from a store that closed ages ago.  I declared the official opening to the season of jellybean and cadbury consumption.  

I'd say I made the most of a short month! Lots of fun things on tap for March.... so bye bye Feb!  Oh yeah, ZEE GRID!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saving a Buck

We're newlyweds.  We're creatives.  We're lucky to have good jobs but... we are in that classic 'just starting out' time in our lives where one day, we'll tell our kids and grandkids about all the things we used to do to save a buck.  I know for a fact that my depression-era grandparents had an influence on me, whether it be genetic or just observed.  My dad's mother has even been known to wash ziplock bags and re-use them over and over.  I may not go that far, (even though Tom could talk you ear off about how insanely I conserve papertowels [those things are expensive!!]) I am going to share with you my top list of things that have really saved me a bundle. 
Now, if you are lucky and financially satisfied, then well, this post isn't for you.  But if you too are young and cash poor, starting out, or trying to save, read on!
1) The number one EASIEST way we saved a TON of money in the past year was: committing to making our own coffee at home.  With cups at Dunkin or Quick Check costing around $1.60 a day (times two counting Tom's) we're saving a BUNDLE.  I buy large canisters of our fave blend, Maxwell House Original Roast.  I try to get them at Walmart where they are something like $8 but maybe as much as $11 at the grocery store.  I also go to Party Fair and buy disposable cups.  Now you may be wondering why I don't just use a thermos- even MORE savings.  The answer is... because I simple LOVE being able to throw the thing away and not have to wash out a thermos.  I cannot tell you HOW MANY thermos' I've had to chuck over the years because I start science experiments in them, due to my laziness.  NOT using a thermos is what led me to buying coffee at Dunkin or Quick Check every day in the 1st place.  So, anyway, the cups are $6 for like 100.  The lids are $5 for 100.  You can do the math, but over time.... this is big savings!!

2) Carpooling.  Well, this one I owe to my dear friend Jessi.  Back during Hurricane Sandy we carpooled to our remote office one day.  We only live a few miles from each other, so during that time of gas crisis, we met in the middle and drove together, then switched drivers+cars for the next day.  After Sandy we realized, 'Hey, we can save a buck here'.  It would make me too depressed to sit down and really calculate how much $ I dump into my 50 mile a day commute between gas and tolls but now, it's one less day a week.  We try to carpool on Tuesday and Thursday.  Its been great.  And again, it might not be a lot right now, but over time, it will add up to a nice savings.

3) Ya know how on TV when a chef won't reveal a secret ingredient that makes his recipe so great?  Well, this tip is like that.  From me to you.  SALAD BAR.  I'm only cooking for two right now.  That means that, buying an entire bag of celery or carrots for a recipe means I'm either stressfully trying to think of how to use it up for the rest of the week or, I'm feeling guilty when I don't and throw it away cause its gone bad.  Like I've said in previous posts; I cook healthfully 99% of the time.  And healthfully means produce.  And produce is expensive and perishable.  SO, now I go to the salad bar and make little containers of carrots or cellery or mushrooms or tomatoes (you get the idea) for the just the amount we'll use.  It usually totals somethign around 3 dollars and there will be no waste.  This is HUGE when it comes to bagged spinach/lettuce/arugula.  Those pre-packed bags are a RIP OFF.  Fill a box at the salad bar with spinach- it weighs nothing and you'll pay $1 and change instead of $5+.

4) Not everything is at the salad bar...  some stuff I buy at my favorite produce Market (this should get a # of its own because produce there is SO cheap, but its pretty specific to my town).  If I haven't gotten to something, I'll often cook it up in the evening and then freeze it.  I KNOW you're seeing my Great Depression Era grandmothers in me right now... but what can I say.... I spend enough money on cute things for the house or treats.  I need to save somewhere!

5) I always, always, always check ebay first.  Sneakers, lamps, clothes, vinyl, you name it.  Check ebay first!

6) Never buy custom frames; ever!!  I ALMOST made this fatal error this year when I got a 65% off coupon to Michaels for a custom frame job and i wanted a 23ish" frame.  They quoted me $115 for the simplest frame they had with no matt.  NO NO NO!  Go to Home Goods!  Buy some ugly piece of framed art (I paid $39 for mine), paint the fame if necessary, take out whats in there and swap in the art of your choice.  Voila!

That's all I can think of for now... One day I hope to include saving $ at concerts by sneaking in our drinks in a flask, but I can't get the hubs on board with that one.  Sighhhh....

Until next time... or, we hit the lotto...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let's Hear it for the... Girls!

So I thought I'd share some valentines lovin from 2013.  Let's be honest.... while valentine's day is a holiday dedicated to romance, it really is more of a holiday for 'da ladiez.  You're supposed to give her flowers, chocolates, fancy card.... reservations... etc.

I like to try to shower the girls in my life with the luv they deserve cause really, while i love doing something special for my man, its really the chicks that appreciate these things!!!!

This year, besides sending out some valentines and a cute care package to my nieces, I decided to do some crafting for my faves.  Unfortch, i knew my bff would be off in tropical paradise this valentines day so I just sent her a cute card for her return.

For my sis and work besties, mother nature gave me a weekend of snow and thus, crafting.
I made these lil wooden hearts with their names on one side and designy stuff on the other.  I was excited to get to use the power drill for this project!!  I just strung some bright thread through the holes and I guess they can hang them?  Not sure they serve any real purpose, but they're fun to look at!

For the work girls, who also happen to both be HUGE Disney lovers, I picked up the most random Disney asian cookie treats while we were at HMart the other night.  They were so weird & cool and I knew they'd like them.  They sold a chocolate & a strawberry flavor.  The packaging looked so dated in some way... but then again, all the packaging at HMark makes you pause.

And, for mi hermana, i got some of this and some of that.  I started off making a little garland for her based on this.  I went with, 'Be still my heart'.  It was a perfect snow day activity.  I also got a boring box from work and lined it in awesome paper then filled it with our traditional gift of an unmentionable, cool sunglasses, hello kitty cotton candy, and some twizzlers/tootsie rolls (her faves).  I SUCK and didnt get a picture of the final product which was sad cuz it looked really cool.  But she did take a cool picture of what she did with the little garland afterward!


Now, I was also the recipient of some awesomeness!!  Mere worked her magic with the washi tape and gifted me the MOST amazing bracelet that I adore. 

My work girl also sweetly gave me yummy candy with an adorable note.

It was a fun valentines day for sure; Sushi Ya was as good as always and we even sprung for 2 flavors of mochi ice cream.  Green tea & red bean.

Lastly, just for the record, my man gave me THE coolest gift:

My first plan is to sprinkle some on kale chips.  :) And when I'm not using it, the colors are AMAZING to look at on my kitchen shelf. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

DIY Faux Fireplace; Revisited!

So, I haven't checked in about the 'fireplace' in ages! Here's where we're at!

I'll back it up a smidge and start around Christmas.  I used the same reindeer stocking holders as in 2011, but added some candlesticks we got as a shower gift, a little toy car I attached a mini tree to, my new collection of reindeer and our Foldable Me's!  I got that little shelter for my mini-nativity from Dollar Tree for a BUCK! Ohh! And a lovely gold/white dipped pinecone from my dear sister. :)

After Christmas, during the January apartment revamp, I decided to keep the's, my zig-zag painting, and our new fabulous faux-bois planter from anthro (amazing xmas gift from again, dear sister).  I nabbed an awesome fake plant for it at homegoods and luuuv it.

The other side still needed attention.  I had the twiggy photoframe for a while which I popped a pic of Tom and I into. The amethyst colored geode was my souvenir from the grand canyon while on our honeymoon.  [Tom's too nice to actually tell people exactly HOW many stores I dragged him into and HOW much time I spent looking at rocks and geodes on that trip.  yikes.]
It still needed onnnne more thing.  I stopped in TJ Maxx one day at lunch and found a cool black mini-globe.  I liked it a bit and it was $9.00.  I would have been over the moon for it if it was an astronomical map rather than geographical but, oh well!  I knew I needed something with a little height so I bought it.  Turns out, I LOVED how it looked in that little grouping.  I added my old white clay mini-campfire (from... guess who! lol.....) and voila!  A grouping I am so so happy with.  

I guess the last touch was finally getting to drawing the fire in the fireplace.  We had a party last year and all our friends signed it so it took a while to be ready to erase that.  But, luckily the drawing turned out okay and now we have a nice roaring fire to keep toasty with this winter ;)

For extra special occasions, (and for Hurricane Sandy) I've lit all those candles in the tray.   It looks AWESOME.  

 And, that's the update!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Good Eats...

We've been in our apartment for over a year now, and in that time of co-habitating, T has kindly eaten more than one dissapointing meal.  (My overcooked meat/undercooked rice night still leads the pack....)

I would say the good thing is that I really only cook nutritious, fresh meals and often attempt to execute recipes that I put together in my own head.  The bad thing is that.... these don't always work out awesomely! 

My two biggest problems are probably that we don't have a dishwasher (so sometimes I cut corners trying to save a dish or pan from becoming dirty), and I probably worry more than I should about food poisoning and will always err on the side of overcooking meat.  

Oh well.

Then again.... I've knocked a lot of dinners out of the park!!!   This recipe is one of them.  
I have searched all over for really wide rice noodles.  These worked really well.  I found them at an awesome local Asian market, which will be a post for another day.

It's kind of a throw-together-what-you-have stir fry.  Rather than let my veggies go bad when we won't get to them (HUGE waste of $ for youngsters like us),  I'll often cook them up and freeze them; then they're all ready to roll when I want to use them.  So this recipe was a mix of stuff from the fridge and stuff I had cooked before and froze.

Asian Wide Noodle Stir-Fry
3/4 cup shredded carrot

3/4 cup mushrooms

1 cup chopped parsnips (Earlier, I had roasted these in the oven at 400º with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 25 mins. Let some get brown)

1 1/2 cups cooked Fennel (I had sautéed this earlier in the week with onion powder, garlic salt, white wine & black pepper)

1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken  (i love this shortcut, esp with the high price of chicken. We can get 2-3 meals from one chicken and they're only $7)

2 1/2  cups rice flakes, or any asian noodle.  Cook per package directions. 

Sauce: Sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, 3 tsp Hoisin sauce, 1 T brown sugar, 1 tsp red wine vinegar. 
I eyeballed all these proportions but in the end figure you'll want about 3/4 cup of saucy goodness

Drizzle saute pan with a teaspoon of sesame oil. (its pricey but packs MAJOR flavor)
Add 3/4 cup of shredded carrot and let sauté until soft.  

Add mushrooms, fennel, chicken, parsnips and rice flakes.

Pour sauce over the top.  Toss and heat through.  I probably added 1/2 a cup of water and just let this bubble/steam covered with foil for about 6 or 7 mins over med heat.  

We sprinkled ours with Togarashi because we're obsessed with it, but hot pepper flakes would work, or cayenne.

I think the reason these ingredients all work so well together is because they are all inherently sweet. Carrots, parsnips and fennel are all sweet veggies and the saltiness of the soy/hoisin/fish sauce are just awesome together.  

Obviously if you don't have all the pre-cooked ingredients, just sauté them in the beginning and when they're the desired texture, add those rice flakes/noodles and the sauce.

Lastly, I didn't even bother taking a picture cause this dish isn't a looker and I take TERRIBLE food pics. BUT, it woulda been AMAZING with some fresh chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts on top.  Ahh, next time. . . :)

P.S. Kale or some type of leafy green would have been AMAZING in this.  Also could easily be a vegetarian dish.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Life Changing Eats




Your ice cream experience will never be the same again.
Drizzle maple syrup over chocolate ice cream.  Top with a crank or 2 of sea salt.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Daily Pic | January Edition

Hello one and probably, just the one... It's January.  Actually, now it's February!  January lived up to its reputation and felt like a loooooong month.
Let me think on the highlights:

Rang in the new year with my hubby, a terrible dinner at Mamma Shitoria and an off beat flick called 'The Loneliest Planet'.  The trailer made it look insane but while it was beautiful, it was a little anticlimactic.  

I used taking down the Christmas decorations as my catalyst to revamping the apt.  New curtains, a cool record player stand, some rearranging, various DIY, an emotionally obtained craigslist bench, new art, new desk for Tom, and goooooodbye elliptical!  The only sad part about losing the elliptical is T's make-believe microphone is now gone.  
We saw Purity Ring at Webster Hall.  To say it was an AMAZING show would be an understatement.  It was actually T's bday present to me.  The opener, Young Magic totally blew us away, and I picked up their album on the way out.  (After chatting with & girl-crushing on their female vocalist).
The next night we celebrated a buddies bday at his place and had a blast.  It was a pretty kickbutt weeknd.

Other highlights of the month included a yummy bday dinner out for T with my in-laws at Que Pasta, a LOVELY girls night with a million mini-donuts and avacado blt's at my sisters, a totally indulgent night at Bistro 55 with a gal-pal, a jaunt to New Brunswick for a tat-touchup on the coldest night in history (where we hit up Brother Jimmy's BBQ [if you go, get the 'swamp juice'!]) and last but not least, hosted an awesome Old Skool 33rd bday party at home for T.  A good time was had by all.  

Well, when I sum it up like that, its been an awesome month!  I also think it needs to be said that this month boasted more beautiful sunrises and sunsets than ever!!!!

 And, for visual proof that I'm still kickin it....
***Note the scarf variety!  This is huge.